HIROSHIMA, Japan - Top seed Hsieh Su-wei saw her title defense at the Hana-cupid Japan Women's Open come to an end on Friday afternoon with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat to Nao Hibino.
Making her first appearance in the quarterfinals in her seventh consecutive appearance at the event, Hibino broke serve a combined five times to seal her spot in the semifinals, hitting 25 winners to 27 unforced errors.
The 24-year-old home favorite sealed her first tour-level semifinal since finishing runner-up in Nanchang nearly two years ago with the victory, with just her third career win in 12 matches against Top 30 opposition.
"I don't know why but having had a day off since my second round match, I was nervous going into today's match," Hibino said.
"Once I got on the court, I was no longer nervous and was able to play well. I know how Su-wei plays, and all three of my opponents this week are similar.
"I used high balls and spin balls, tried not to rush and waited for my chance. Today's match was 70 percent defence and 30 percent offense - it worked out okay, but I think I need to be more aggressive."
Down goes No. 1!
Nao Hibino dethrones Hsieh in the quarterfinals of the @jwo_open, 6-4, 6-3 👍 pic.twitter.com/SzzK4bf2Sn
— WTA (@WTA) September 13, 2019
The World No. 146 was the first of the two to break serve in the match, scoring the decisive break of the opener in the fifth game.
Losing just three points in her first four service games, the 24-year-old saved both break points she faced for the first set in the final game, as she successfully served out a one-set lead on her first set point opportunity.
With just one break between the two in the first set, the second set proved a polar opposite. Hibino was again the first to break, as she set the tone in Hsieh's opening service game, but the pair traded breaks twice over the first six games.
After dropping serve a second time to see Hsieh level at 3-3, Hibino found her way through to win in straight sets, breaking serve twice more over the final three games.
She denied Hsieh an opportunity on her serve in the eighth game, holding for a cruical 5-3 lead, and sealed victory in just over 80 minutes on her first match point.
Hibino will be joined in the semifinals by another Japanese player in Misaki Doi, who defeated No. 7 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, 7-5, 6-1, and will face Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu for a berth in the final. The Romanian downed No. 3 seed Alison van Uytvanck, 6-4, 7-5.
"I will try to utilize my experiences of the first three rounds," Hibino said. "I am playing in Japan and the crowd's cheering gives me power, so I will try to stay on the court as long as possible."